A deputy U.S. marshal has been charged in a bizarre plot to frame his ex-girlfriend by luring men to his California home to stage a sexual assault on his wife, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Ian Diaz, 43, is accused of launching the scheme after breaking up with his girlfriend around August 2015. The pair were locked in a dispute over a condo they had purchased a few months earlier, according to federal prosecutors.
Starting in May 2016, Diaz and his wife created multiple online accounts using his ex-girlfriend’s names and phrases associated with her, according to the indictment. They then used the accounts to communicate with men found through Craigslist “personal” ads and entice them to come to their Anaheim home to engage in a “rape fantasy” with the then-wife, according to the indictment.
The pair concocted the plan to make it seem like Diaz’s ex-girlfriend, who was not identified in the indictment but is known to be Michelle Hadley, was sending men to his house to sexually assault his wife, according to the indictment.
Michelle Susan Hadley addresses the media after being cleared of all charges in a plot to frame her, after coming out of court in Fullerton, Calif., Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.AP
“It was a purpose of the conspiracy to engage in a cyberstalking campaign to harass and intimidate [Hadley) by framing her for criminal conduct that she did not commit,” the indictment says.
The plot worked: Diaz and his wife staged “one or more hoax sexual assaults” and attempted assaults, and then contacted police to report that Hadley was responsible for hiring the men, according to the indictment.
When police showed up at Diaz’s home on June 13, 2016, he told officers that Hadley “needs to be in f------ cuffs and in a padded room,” the indictment says.
Diaz said he investigates threats made to federal judges and prosecutors in his role as a U.S. marshal but he had “never seen anything like this,” the indictment says.
“At what point does this girl get arrested for sending this s--- and hiring guys off Craigslist to rape [the then-wife],” he also told the officers, according to the indictment.
Hadley was arrested by Anaheim police a week and a half later after Diaz’s wife called 911 to report that she had been sexually assaulted and Hadley was responsible for setting it up, according to the indictment.
Hadley ultimately spent 88 days in jail before the charges were dropped.
The sensational case was featured on NBC's "Dateline" in 2017.
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Diaz was arrested Wednesday on charges of cyberstalking, conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and perjury. Jason Hannan, a federal public defender who represented Diaz at his first court appearance, did not respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. Marshals Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michael Guisti, who served as Hadley's criminal defense and civil attorney until 2018, said they "worked extensively with the solicitor general's office after her exoneration."
"It was a very hard sell and it took five years for someone to finally listen," Guisti said. "Although it was very frustrating, I am very pleased to hear that the appropriate action was taken.”
Diaz’s wife was not named in the indictment but is known to be Angela Diaz. She was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 after pleading guilty in the plot.
Ian and Angela Diaz are now divorced.
Just last month, Hadley settled a federal lawsuit against the city of Anaheim for an undisclosed amount.
“It was our client’s bravery and diligence in bringing her civil suit, which settled this past week on the eve of trial, that exposed the holes in Anaheim’s investigation and the cover up of the cover up,” said the lawyers who brought the suit on Hadley’s behalf, Maggie McLetchie and Carrie Goldberg.
“Let this be a lesson to all abusers – the law will catch up to you. Even if you are a law enforcer.”